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01/24/06 05:44 - 33ºF - ID#27706

Phew...a long one

My friend Mary got very exciting results at her last doctor's appointment. She found that the cancer in her pancreas shrunk to a ¼ of the original size. I was so relieved because if she didn't get good news she was going to stop all treatments; the side effects have really decreased her quality of life. Anyway, I have felt a little lighter ever since then and I know it has given her so much more motivation. It's been on my mind so much these past couple months that I can't imagine how she can be so strong. In any event, we were ready and thankful for the good news.

In other news, the past two weeks have been very enjoyable and productive. Since I finished my finals I've done so many things I've wanted to do for a long time. Here are a couple of the things I've done:

-When I'm in school the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure because I get so sick of reading for class. In the past two weeks I've read three really interesting books (I'd recommend them but they're so specific that I really don't think anyone's interested).

-I'm also a documentary fanatic so I planned on rewarding myself for getting through this semester by renting a bunch of movies that I've wanted to see. To do that, I had to get up enough courage to rent movies by myself (I don't know why but it always made me feel really self-conscious before). I've watched at least 4 in the past two weeks and I would definitely recommend at least two of them. One, The Weather Underground, was about a protest group in the 60s and 70s called the Weathermen (a la Bob Dylan's lyrics). The other, which I watched with (e:Jessbob), was called One Day in September, and was about the Munich hostages. Now, I've seen a bunch of movies I've wanted to see and also conquered my weird fear of renting movies alone.

-I made a scrapbook for Mary. It was such an ordeal because I had to have people send me pictures and write letters. Plus, I kind of despise scrap-booking (I don't have the patience to cut all those little tiny pieces of paper and make my very own 3-D beach chair on each page). I think it turned out well and I know she will really enjoy all the old pictures. I had the best time looking through all of them!

-I FINALLY made my mosaic. I have been talking about making a mosaic table with my mom for years. I saw a mother and daughter do it in a movie and I kind of became obsessed. Unfortunately, my mother, the woman who majored in art, had no interest in making a mosaic with me. I even bought the table a couple years ago and she threw it out! So, I decided to make it on my own. I bought some glass and mirrors, broke them up, glued them to the top of a bookshelf, grouted it, glazed it, and voila, a mosaic bookshelf. I'm really happy with it. My mom wants me to do the entire wall in our spa room. We'll see about that one, since this took me two days for like 3 square feet.


-I bought a chair at the Salvation Army, made a slip cover, dyed it a now I have a comfy purple chair in my room. I still need to fix all the seams because my sewing machine is at school, but it looks nice for now.

-Finally, this is not a crafty thing, but I feel good because I got up the courage to stick up for myself to a couple people recently. I usually let things go pretty easily. I don't like to fight or complain to people too much. I can be really critical, but I know that about myself, so I try to keep it in check most of the time. Recently, though, I realized I have become a total doormat. It felt good to be honest about how I was feeling. Of course I got apologies and promises of change, but I guess I'll see what really happens. I don't want to lose any friendships, but hopefully I didn't wait too long and things can still be fixed.

Well that was a lot. Unfortunately the party is almost over and I will be going back to school on Saturday. I'm going to try to enjoy my last week home and see everyone I can. School seems so far away.
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01/12/06 12:14 - 45ºF - ID#27705

Education in America

Tomorrow night John Stossell is doing a special on education in America (10pm on 20/20, I think it's on abc?) . It looks really interesting but really slanted. Apparently he is arguing for a voucher system for all schools, not just private. The fact is, the longer American students stay in our schools the more they fall behind students in other countries. In fourth grade our kids match up with kids in Belgium and by high school we are years behind. It's scary when you think about it, and since I started grad school that's all I've been thinking about. There is no simple answer to fixing our schools. The inequalities of our educational system are really appalling (for anyone interested an amazing book came out recently on the issue by Jonathan Kozol called The Shame of the Nation). I have great respect for teachers, but the profession is really not set up for quality control at all. Furthermore, schools do not implement research findings that could improve student achievement. Developing literacy programs has become a business and marketing agencies have better success at getting districts to buy their packaged programs that education schools. And don't get me started on the enormous mess that is No Child Left Behind (this statement is purely from an educational researcher's point of view, and not based on politics). Of all of the government services provided, it is my (biased) view that education is the most important AND least successful. In any event, I will be watching, or at least taping, the special tomorrow night.
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